A Run and A Confession

I ran five miles tonight after three days break.

Afterward, I drove to Confession at St. Ray’s. I made for the last hour and spent most of it in line, waiting.

And what a wait it was!

I had conversations with three random women. When was the last time a stranger talked to me in public, doing anything? It was refreshing and unexpected.

At first I felt a bit self-conscious in my skirt, even though it’s an athletic skirt. Everyone else was so buttoned up and well, Catholic. Hee! But a woman in the pews pointed to my skirt and asked, “Do you play tennis? Cute!” We got to talking about exercise. She had a big black boot on her foot. “I’ve never been a runner,” she told me. But she loves tennis. She said she’s not sure what kind of work out she can do with her foot.
“Yoga?” I suggested. She agreed. Pointing to her arms, she grabbed one and jiggled it! She likes to lift free weights. She was wearing a bright orange shirt, black pants. Cute choppy blonde haircut.

The line moved up, so I moved. I said goodbye to her and we smiled at each other.

Two women in front and behind me were having a conversation. Whispered, so I couldn’t decipher what they were saying specifically.

I was looking at the woman in front of me, scoffing internally at her bright yellow banana clip– straight out of the ’90s!– and the wierd black pipecleaner thing she had somehow wound around it.

And while I was judging her, she began talking with me. The woman in front her saw my Shamrock Shuffle hoodie and asked if I had run in it. “Yes!” I said. “My daughter ran it,” she told me. I felt so proud. This hoodie wasn’t cheap but I knew I’d live in it. It felt so good to be recognized for an athletic achievement by a stranger. I’d told myself it’s just an 8k, a mere five miles. Small potatoes in the running world. But that’s five miles I couldn’t dream of two years ago!

It was her turn.  So it was just me and the woman behind me, who had a thick braided ponytail– almost white blonde. She was holding a small finger Rosary.

“Is it Amber?” I had asked.

She wasn’t sure. “I got it in Poland,” she told me.

I told her that on the other side when I got there, there were several nuns waiting in line.  “I wonder what nuns confess?” I mused.

She said a lot to me, but I couldn’t hear most of it. But clearly, she was alive with faith. She spoke of Jesus, I caught that much.

Then it was my turn.

I told Father that it’s been about a year since my last Confession. I had missed Advent. I was kneeling on a dark wood bench– there was simple cloth curtain separating us. It seemed to be a large confession booth. He was a good listener. It was almost 9 p.m., closing time, but he wasn’t hurrying me at all.

I was surprised at how good I felt– I wasn’t wracked with guilt about anything. I told him the truth– that I haven’t been to Mass much lately.  That I had a hot dog for lunch. That I quit choir so I could get to bed earlier and focus on running. That I gave up envy for Lent, and that I struggle with it. That I gave up sleeping in for Lent too– also for running– and have failed that on multiple accounts! That I want to be more independent. I’m trying to save my money.  That my parents are my best friends and I want to do right by them. That I want to learn the Rosary but it’s overwhelming and not happening yet.

I told him other things of course– but I’m keeping that to myself!

I was genuinely shocked by his reaction.

He didn’t chastise me once. Not even for going MIA from Mass for awhile.

Instead he told me that God wants us to progress in our lives. That I’m doing that with my running. That my tenacity will pay off.

He asked me to say One Hail Mary and one Gloria.

I left feeling lighter. I’m always inspired by how forgiving and open-minded priests can be. I should have gotten his name. I’d like to confess to him again. He had a soft accent.

I left feeling grateful and cleansed, like I do after a good run.

Confession was like a five mile run for my soul. I feel more spiritually fit.

If you haven’t been to Confession in a long time, don’t be afraid. Be honest. And let it go.





Schaudenfruede at the Supermarket

Caught myself tonight  breaking my rule!

I was riveted by a tabloid at Jewel. I’m one of those shameless people who will pull up to an aisle that’s closed, park my cart and read whatever I want without buying it. (But I have bought an incriminating number of these babies in the past, I admit!)

Tabloids are one of my vices.

As I closed it and moved on to check-out in an available aisle, I realized my crime.

What was my point in reading it? There it was. Envy.

Envy and gossip connected, boom.

I read about the Kardashians, Ben and Jen’s impending divorce, I looked at a story analyzing Madonna’s obsession with plastic surgery.

Fame is not what I want. Money, however, yeah. I envy that. What regular person doesn’t?

However, I *never envy the problems that come with that level of money. The exposure.

Did I feel a little self-righteous after seeing that these successful people have struggles just like regular people? Yeah, I did. Truthfully, they probably envy the simplicity of their former lives– when they could shop in peace. When they had quiet moments of anonymity, small moments like I enjoyed tonight.

I am thankful for the privacy of being a regular person.

Good for them, for finding a way to market their skills and become wealthy for it. Good for them for braving marriages and relationships when the entire world is literally analyzing their every outfit, date, and ordinary errand. They deal with much more stress than I anticipate ever having in my life. And they carry on working and living and parenting.

I am swearing off tabloids for the remainder of Lent.







How to Stop Envy

That’s the dilemma I’m trying to solve this Easter season!

I love this song and the lyrics and particularly the video.

Although the lyrics are written in third person, how could this glorious rock classic have been born without some substantial envy? She’s venting about feeling ignored at first, but the overcoming that. Then also talking about the envy others feel toward her– and despite her own fame, she feels jaded.

“You better watch out

What you wish for

It better be worth it

So much to die for”

But the ending stanza is the best–

“You want a part of me?

Well I’m not selling cheap.

No, I’m not selling cheap.”

She refuses to let fame and her fans define her. She’s holding something back for herself– strength, pieces of mystery that are important to her. She knows her worth.

Bad ass!

For myself, I’m just doing a few things to help.

When I catch that feeling niggling at me, I shut it down.

Envy is negative and petty, it’s childish. It fuels gossip.

Though not any type of mindfulness devotee, I am choosing my thoughts.

Instead, I try to counter that thought with something positive about the person provoking my envy. Turn it around– what do I admire about this person, how do they inspire me?

What could they teach me, if I’m open to learn?

Then I affirm myself, so I don’t get trapped in a competitive cycle.

Often envy happens when we perceive ourselves as less-than said person– less accomplished, less intelligent, less attractive, less settled in life, what have you.

For me, anyway.

Now I dismiss the thought and then focus on something constructive. An activity!

If that’s not working, I’ll journal about it. That’s what I’ve got so far! Happy Friday.

How do *you combat those poisonous feelings of envy? Tell me in the comments!



Lenten Promises 2017

I’m giving up envy and sleeping in this year. Got my ashes tonight at Mass!

I struggle often with envy and while sometimes it can be motivating it’s mostly a purely sulfuric emotion that causes me to distance myself from people who I envy, sometimes when they are celebrating a milestone that deserves my support.

So hopefully this will make me a better friend and a more selfless woman.

Sleeping in is probably my #1 vice! I want to regulate my schedule into a better routine.

This should do the trick. Hopefully I’ll also run more.

Here we go!

Lent 2015: Resentment and Cheese

If I can survive 40 days without cheese, I can accomplish anything.

“Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

That’s what the priest said tonight as I received my ashes.

I’ve never heard that before, in all my years.

Before I left, I stopped to make sure that’s what he said. It’s alternative option, and I like it.

So simple. Doesn’t that just sum up being Christian or Catholic?

Take responsibility and be good to others.

This year I’m taking responsibility by doing my best to eradicate resentment. I’m not sure what that’s going to look like right now– but tentatively, it means always assuming the best and avoiding envy.

Envy is a killer for me. Can I do it?

I want to believe I can. And after 40 days of trying, I’m sure I’ll be a better person, either way.

What are you going without for Lent? Or are you taking up something instead?